A Bitter Presidency
Division, not hope.

Kate Obenshain, author of Divider-in-Chief: The Fraud of Hope and Change


Barack Obama wasn’t sufficiently vetted by the media before he was elected president in 2008, and Kate Obenshain would like to avoid a repeat this year. And so she’s written Divider-in-Chief: The Fraud of Hope and Change; she discusses her case against the president with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: So you mean for your book to be a reminder? An awakening? Is there any shot of getting it into new hands? People who do not already see President Obama as a “divider”?

KATE OBENSHAIN: You bet, I meant it for an awakening. With Obama’s approval rate hovering around 50 percent, we need a great awakening. There is no reason for this president to still have those numbers. The strategy of dividing Americans by identifying an “enemy” on which segments of Americans can focus their frustrations and disappointments is incredibly effective. But it’s incredibly destructive, as well. It’s destructive from a policy standpoint, as it allows Obama to ram through his radical agenda, but also from the standpoint of shutting down the intellectual debate — the back-and-forth of ideas that is essential to the health of our republic.

Whenever I speak, I urge people to pass the book along to an Obama fan after they read it. From what I understand, that’s exactly what’s happening. I put the facts at your fingertips, one after another — some of which we had forgotten, others we’ve never heard — and they are like a slap in the face. This book makes us realize how stunningly cynical and divisive this president has been. He was elected for one reason: He was going to be the great uniter — heal our wounds and bring us together. Yet from day one — or, literally, day three — he has been the most divisive president in our nation’s history. That is a devastating truth that everyone needs to truly grasp.

LOPEZ: Does everyone know that political talk of “Hope, unity, and post-partisanship” is oftentimes empty talk? Is it any surprise that peace didn’t come to Washington under President Obama?

OBENSHAIN: The 2010 elections showed us that people weren’t buying it — the whole hope and bring-us-all-together thing. Obama himself said, “There were those who argued that because I had spoken of a need for unity in this country, that our nation was somehow entering into a period of post-partisanship. That didn’t work out so well.” Women and young people, in particular, who had flocked to Obama’s message were disillusioned by the rancor that they saw stemming from the president himself.

And yet after four years of divisiveness and vilifying their opponents, the Democrats, Obama in particular, are reaping a costly harvest. The dynamic has changed dramatically from four years ago. Notice we don’t hear that “hope and change” rhetoric, or calls to post-partisanship, from Obama. We hear fear-mongering, bitterness. There is no bright panorama of a bright future — rather it’s “If you vote for Republicans they are going to take women back to the Stone Age and give breaks to their millionaire and billionaire friends at the expense of children with autism and Down syndrome.”

Roughly half the public — the half that supported Obama in 2008 — has transitioned with Obama to diminished expectations. They have focused their growing animosity, stoked by the president himself, on those they have been conditioned to suspect — anyone who has succeeded to a greater extent than they, or who doesn’t walk in lock ideological step with Barack Obama.